What Happens If You Overdose on LSD?

What Happens If You Overdose on LSD?
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A new article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs tells us what happened to three people who accidentally took massive doses of LSD. A woman took 550 times the normal LSD dose. That’s 55,000 micrograms! The typical recreational dose is 100 micrograms. Not only did they live to tell the tale, amazingly, but all the cases also present just how nontoxic LSD. The experience even had positive outcomes in their lives. 

Three Cases of Accidental LSD Overdose

Mark Haden, Director of MAPS Canada and author of the article, told New Atlas that “What we do know is that people can take thousands of times the normal dose [of LSD]. There is evidence of that, and you can’t take a thousand times a dose of water. What’s a dose of water, maybe a glass? If you tried to drink a thousand glasses of water it would kill you.”

The resurgence of scientific inquiry into psychedelics has illuminated their many promising therapeutic applications. However, to reiterate an important fact, there is still much we do not know. On that note, no one really knows what the toxic dose of LSD is, but evidence suggests that in high doses, it’s less toxic than water. This does not mean that LSD cannot cause permanent damage or that it is a good idea to experiment, as a disclaimer.

Case Report 1: Bipolar Disorder

In the case of “AV,” prior to her accidental overdose, she was a 15-year-old female suffering with severe mental health issues, including bi-polar disorder. After her LSD trip, she awoke at the hospital to her father coming into the room. ““It’s over,” AV said. 

She was not referring to the LSD trip but rather her bi-polar disorder. After that, her mental illness symptoms more or less disappeared. Her psychiatrist at the end of her case noted that “her insight and self-awareness was quite remarkable.” She was also able to successfully get off her lithium medication. AV reported that she was free from all mental illness symptoms for the next 13 years. 

Case Report II: LSD Did Not Damage a Fetus

This young woman overdosed on LSD, not realizing that she was two weeks pregnant. Her son is now 18 years old and appears to be a smart, social, and well-rounded young man.

In other words, LSD does not harm fetuses. At least at that stage of pregnancy.

Case Report III: Physical Pain and Morphine

In her twenties, “CB” contracted Lyme’s Disease and as a result, experienced chronic pain in her feet and ankles. Eventually, doctors prescribed her morphine, which she had been on continuously for about a decade leading up to her LSD overdose.

At 46-year-old, this woman took 550 times the normal dose of LSD. Not surprisingly, the next 12 hours were a “blur.” She mostly vomited. The following 12 hours, she felt “pleasantly high” with some vomiting.

Her foot pain was gone the next day. Her pain did begin to creep back in a few days later, but she lowered her dose of morphine, and she began microdosing LSD. In the end, she was able to completely come off morphine and other pain medications.

Testing High Doses

We’ve been taught to believe that LSD is one of the most dangerous drugs that exist–in terms of toxicity. Determining the lethal dose of any drug is evidently a complex process because ethically speaking, scientists can’t use human beings as guinea pigs, so-to-speak. That’s why most studies conduct these kinds of experiments on rats. We don’t know what the lethal dose of LSD is because we can’t find it. 

However, researchers did give 297 mg of LSD to an elephant named Tusko once, which is an astronomical amount even for an elephant. That’s 30 times what a three-tonne human might receive. He died. What we do know, however, is that 297 mg will kill an elephant, so it might be safe to conclude that that amount would kill anything. 

We know that LSD, in terms of toxicity, is a relatively safe drug. We’re just been fed the narrative that LSD is dangerous, puts holes in your brain, etc. partly due to political manipulation and lack of knowledge. 

In the 50s, the Addiction Center in Lexington, Kentucky under the jurisdiction of Harris Isbell, conducted LSD research on incarcerated black men with a history of drug abuse. This was also partially funded by the CIA as a part of the MkUltra project. They were administered LSD doses for 77 days in a row. The researchers paid their subjects with heroin, which is nuts. 

Better Safe than Sorry with Drugs!

These exceptions aside, the way researchers assess the effects of high doses of LSD are using cases that occur in the real world. 

All the cases presented in the MAPS article illustrate how nontoxic LSD is. However, LSD may be safer than water in high doses, but that does not mean it cannot cause permanent damage. On a final note, this is why you should always test your substances. We may never know what the toxic dose of LSD, but we can mitigate the risks, however, by knowing the dose! 

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